You Do Have Time to Be Creative.
When we think of barriers to creativity, time is usually first on the list. I know it’s something I struggle with, I believe most people do.
The only trouble with the theory of no time for creativity is the very many people who have much greater time pressures than you or I do, and are still killing it writing, painting, doing their thing.
We’ve been led to believe people like this are rare, superhuman, or especially privileged. Some are, but also many are not. They’re juggling busy lives, working, caring, parenting. The reality of creative work and who does it is mostly hidden. We tend to think that creativity is not for regular people, and that’s just not true. It belongs to us. It’s what we are.
There’s a psychological barrier to creativity that is very difficult to overcome. In 1954, Roger Bannister broke through a similar barrier, when he became the first person to run a sub-4-minute mile. The belief until then was no one could do it. Perception is truth, and the belief was stronger than the reality. Because as soon as one person did it, many others did too.
We often think things are impossible, until we see others do it. But for many of us, there was no way to see or experience creative work before the internet and social media, which in turn fed the myth of separation, of the other.
How different would our attitudes be, would we be, if we were surrounded by creative process? By open sharing of creative work, at all ages and levels? It would revolutionize our thinking.
For most of history, the only creativity we experienced at all was the end result of years of hidden labor. Professionally produced music, movies, books, and famous artists. The internet changed all that. For the first time, we started seeing something of the work, the process, and by regular people. And that is so important.
Of course, not everyone shares their process, or wants to. It’s slow, messy, and expectations are high. And this puts a terrible burden on us as creators. We’re afraid of being judged, of not being good enough. Are we even allowed to be creative? Are we worthy? We think not, so we deny our creativity, we hide it, sometimes even from those closest to us.
In this way, we drive creativity farther underground. We uphold the barriers that keep us from growth, from progress, from ever finding our own voices, and we do lousy work. Those who practice in secret become as gatekeepers of a secret world. One that’s very hard to find or be a part of. The fantasies of creativity, killing the dream for us all.
Creativity is not straightforward, it doesn’t follow a straight line, there’s no formula. And it’s very difficult to allow for that in our current system. Like school, where creativity goes to die. But it could so easily be inclusive. Because, though buried deep, it’s in us. It doesn’t cost us, it unites us, it heals us, makes us happy, and it frees us.
The sad truth is that even as we long for it, we don’t necessarily value or understand our creativity. Just like we don’t always value ourselves.
We’ve put our creativity in this strange no man’s land, where it’s more taboo than other leisure activities, and where we sometimes feel guilty for giving it time.
“What does it pay?” The people ask. That’s all they want to know, if they want to know anything.
An awkward silence is just as likely. And preferable.
It’s amazing but true that creative work can be a real conversation-stopper.
Meanwhile sports and TV shows are like religion. And in some countries, work is god. These things have value, committee approval. They make us feel important, valued, connected. And being busy makes us feel important too.
With all of this, and we’re only scratching the surface here, what can we do? How do we escape this madness?
The answer, I believe, is not more time. You could have all the time in the world and still never create anything. So if you’re longing for more creativity in your life but find it difficult, for whatever reason, here’s some ideas to get you started.
Create a Habit
Come up with a routine that works for you, and stick with it for at least a month.
It can be as short and simple as you like. 10 minutes (set a timer if it helps) or one poem a week, a few words every morning or every night, or painting with the children once a week. Or it could be as simple as a different recipe and new music to begin with. Or reading something that gives you courage, that makes you feel alive, inspired. Inspiration is always my goal.
The habit is important because if you don’t have one when life gets busy, which it always does, something has to give. It’s always going to be your creative work unless you truly value it, and have the habit.
Once you have it, you’ll give up food, sleep, and brushing your teeth before you’ll surrender the pen. In a choice between literally any other activity, a holiday, a meal out, shopping, family, friends, you’ll choose writing. If this is something that inspires you… well, you know who you are. And you’re already halfway there.
Focus on Your Own Path
Don’t look to other people and what they’re doing. When I’m not creating as much as I’d like, i.e. all the time, I look to myself. My routine, my attitudes, my life. I ask myself, what can I do? How can I do better? If I look to other people at all, it’s for inspiration. But I never look at someone else and decide they have it easier than I do. Because how the hell do I know if they do? What has that to do with me and my path?
Immerse Yourself in Creativity — Create Your Own World
As we go forward and try to realize our potential, to find our own voices, we discover that freeing ourselves from convention, and conditioning — the crowd and its voice, takes a very long time.
But if we are to have any chance at all of doing our best work, then we need to immerse ourselves deeper and deeper in the work, and surround ourselves with all that empowers, that fires the creative mind. In this way, you create your own world.
The people out there, those fearless creators — the ones who are doing their thing — they have the habit, they’re focused on their own path. They’ve broken through the limitations and barriers we’ve co-created. They accept that it’s difficult and they don’t make excuses. They keep fantasy ideas and people where they belong, in art and books and stories.
Jane Gilheaney Barry is an author, art therapist, and creative enabler. She lives with her husband and children in rural Ireland. Her first novel, Cailleach~Witch, a modern gothic mystery, is available on Amazon. She is currently working on the next in series, ‘Banshee’ and ‘Changeling’. You can follow Jane on Instagram or Facebook.